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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘country’

Giant Rats and Tiny Men

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

On the corner of the street a giant rat squats over the sidewalk, its shadow blocking the cold winter sun, while at its feet, hired men, some with heavy accents, hand out leaflets and chant, “Who are we, What do we want” in the familiar hymn of the hired union protester, not a member of a union or an employee or a shop, but just a man hired by unions to intimidate some store or company into going along.

There’s another giant rat creeping its way up the Potomac through the evening fog. Its snout is the size of a skyscraper and its shadow is the night. And there are hordes of smaller rats inside that rat and smaller rats inside it that come spilling out. Call it the Trojan Rat or the Great Rat of the Potomac. Or just call it Washington D.C.

In the year of the rat, the election came down to a whole bunch of men and women loudly chanting, “Who do we are, What do we want.” The Democrats had clear answers to both questions. They wanted the rat. They wanted to be rats. They wanted to be the last rats on the sinking ship of state.

That was the hysterical frenzy of the Democratic National Convention in a nutshell. It was the pied piper calling forth all the rats by name and teaching them to march around when the pan pipes played. And the pipes played, the rats went to the polls, they voted, once, twice, three times and then waited around for their cheese.

And who were the Republicans? What did they want?

Watching the Republican National Convention, you got the sense that they were amiable people who like hard work, and talking about hard work, who like minorities and Clint Eastwood movies. They were as American as apple pie, in the way that commercials for frozen apple pies that you defrost in an oven are. Pop the Republican Party in your Sunbeam, punch out 60 years and you’ll get the Eisenhower Administration, toasty and fresh in your kitchen.

But the voters didn’t want apple pie. Some of them did. The older ones. The married ones. And yes those hordes of horrid white males. But a bunch of the electorate wanted burritos, they wanted hot pockets and a hundred other treats. And they wanted them free of charge.

The Republican Party was proposing a country where anyone can open up their own pie shop, while the Democrats were offering free burritos and degrees in Transgendered Mayan poetry in order to “invest in our future.” The party of apple pie came close, but the party of burritos with cheese for voters who vote early and often, came in closer.

The first question of any movement is who are we. The second question is what do we want. And until we can answer those questions and communicate those answers, then we are always going to be flailing, moving from one compromise to another, while our own rats ponder which principle to dispense with first. After all, what good are principles if they don’t get you in to ride the rat?

What the Republican Party communicated in 2012 was that it wanted to win an election. It chose the most electable candidate and put on a show that had little of substance. Three nights of apple pie commercials and then months of apple pie speeches about how wonderful this country is. Little was said, but the unspoken message was that policies didn’t matter, winning did.

As Churchill said of Chamberlain, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” The Republican Party thought it had a choice between defeat and dishonor, it chose dishonor and got defeat anyway. Now we are offered even greater dishonors to avoid greater defeats. And when the GOP has appeared every single element of the electorate except its own base, then surely it will be allowed to win.

But winning isn’t the point. Winning is a power play. It only matters if you either expect to ride the rat or if you are fighting for something. The Republican Party fought to win and it lost. Now might be the time to fight for something, rather than to fight for the sake of winning the fight.

Tiny men don’t defeat giant rats. Not unless they are fighting for more than themselves. More than mere antipathy for the rat. And men who don’t know who they are or what they are fighting for will always be small, no matter how much fame they have or how well known their names are.

And that brings us right back to the question being shouted under the giant rat. “Who are we and what do we want?”

The Republican Party is divided, not split, between an establishment that wants to ride the rat and a base that wants the rat gone. The establishment is still trying to figure out how to win over giant rat voters with the promise of a better, slimmer, but more efficient rat. The base wants it to build a rat trap. But in elections the establishment usually gets its way and whatever the election results are, the giant rat stays around for another year, getting bigger and bigger.

The establishment, that nebulous entity, as at home on the Potomac as its rivals, has few differences with the Democratic Party. It agrees with most of its premises, it just wishes that it wouldn’t be so fanatical about them. It would like to trim back the bureaucracy, loosen some of the regulations and make life easier for business. At least it thinks that it would like to do that, but aside from occasional tax cuts, it doesn’t really do much about that, because it too likes to ride the rat.

The Republican and Democratic leaderships might be divided into the moderate and extreme wings of the same party. But their bases are very different.

The old Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democrats have become Republicans. The Republican Party is at the voting level, the rural party, the party of those skeptical about federalism and looking to lock in liberties with the Bill of Rights. At the same time its leadership consists of Hamiltonian Federalists who are interested in moving business forward. Throw in a moral traditionalist base and the party becomes even more impossibly conflicted.

Meanwhile the Democrats have become what the Republican Party turned into after Lincoln, corrupt, elitist and widely hated. A modernist party that postures as a party of civil rights, but views black people as walking votes and tools for extending the federal power grab of fanatical unionists. It is a party with no more vision than consolidating authority into central organizations that are run by the incompetent and it is not above pulling any and every illegal trick in the book to violate the Constitution. Its only reason for success is that its opposing party has so comprehensively disgraced itself that much of the country will not even consider voting for it.

But as rotten as the giant rat of the Democrats may be, it at least knows what it wants. The same can’t be said for a Republican Party that is stuck in a schizophrenic state. It is united, not by a vision, but by an opposition to the left.

The one thing that the Hamiltonians, Jacksonians and Jeffersonians can agree is that they don’t like the left and its vast bureaucracy that is hostile to business and bent on total control of all aspects of human life.

This opposition transcends federalist issues or moral divides. The Republican base and leadership may differ on how much big government they should be, but they can all agree that the endlessly expanding horror show of the giant rat, towering over Washington D.C. and sharpening its teeth on the Washington Monument is too much.

America is the other thing that the Hamiltonians, Jacksonians and Jeffersonians agree on. They all like it and think that it’s a special and exceptional place. And turning conventions to that theme is a point of agreement. Unfortunately the unwillingness to define what makes America special, beyond the ability to open your own apple pie shop and the ability of immigrants to open their own apple pie shops, means that there is little disagreement, but also no real message.

The Hamiltonians turn Jeffersonian when talking to the base. But then they revert back to being old Alexander. Romney is the first presidential nominee in generations to run on such an explicitly Hamiltonian platform and the results should surprise no one. Hamilton was a good deal more popular after he was killed by Aaron Burr, probably the most ruthless American progressive of all time, who makes ratlings like Ayers or Alinsky seem downright inconsequential, than when he was alive.

Ideology follows interests. The Hamiltonians are city dwellers. They believe that men need regulation but that free markets don’t. They understand the power of the economy in building a nation and how making unpopular decisions that hurt people in the short term can help them in the long term. But they don’t understand people and are terrible at getting their message across. They are sophisticated enough to think big, but not to think small, and the populists beat the stuffing out of them every time.

The Jeffersonians are rural and suspicious of cities and central organizations. They want to keep their way of life by limiting the power of the central government. They are passionate about freedom and instinctively dislike the Hamiltonians. Jeffersonians can win the majority of the country by land area, but the cities stifle them. They are instinctive revolutionaries, but like the Hamiltonians they struggle to communicate their deeply felt beliefs to the rest of the country. They always think small.

And then there are the Jacksonians, who go deeper, challenging the disenfranchisement of the public by the elites. The Jeffersonians still believe, to a degree, in the basic decency of their opponents. The Jacksonians do not. They suspect, and sometimes rightly so, that their opponents seek a one party state. They don’t just protest, they organize public outrage, marshaling the frustrations of those who feel excluded to challenge and overturn the entire system. The Jacksonians can think big and small.

The question is are we going to be Hamiltonians, Jeffersonians or Jacksonians? The question is what do we want?

Do we just want to prune back regulations and make life easier for big business, tidy up the debt and keep the train rolling for another decade? Do we want to smash the Federal system to keep our own corners of the world safe from the overreach of its power… or do we want to use the Federal system to smash the institutions of the left? Do we want to ride the rat, kill the rat or teach the rat to eat its own young?

Do we want to keep the urban federal technocracy going or pull back to local government? Does our future lie with big institutions that plan to do a lot or small ones that we control? Do our economic interests, short term and long, lie with free trade and open borders, or small business and domestic manufacturing? Do we believe in the system or in the family? Do we believe in the expert or the wisdom of the mob? Do we want to push on into the future or protect our past? These are the debates that we need to have if we are ever going to move forward.

We all know what we’re against. The question is what are we for? Once we answer that question then we’ll know not just what we’re fighting against, but what we’re fighting for. And until then we will not be able to step out of the shadow of the rat.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Peres to CNN: ‘No Country in the World Would Agree’ to Rockets

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

In an interview with CNN last night, President Shimon Peres said that if “Gazan mothers want to sleep at night, they must understand that all mothers want to sleep at night” including Israeli mothers.

He also said that “no country in the world would agree” to being bombarded with rockets.

Here’s what Peres said in the Interview:

“There is a permissiveness, they will learn there is no permissiveness, to kill. And if they want to run their lives properly and … their people properly, they cannot be permissive in killing and shooting at us.”

“It’s not just killing. We cannot afford that a million mothers will not have a night’s sleep because they have to watch their babies [to make sure they will not] be hit by rockets.”

“No country in the world would agree to it. Without exception.”

“We shall try to stop it by all the means we can mobile and use. And We can.”

“We don’t think that we are defenseless. We are restrained. We don’t take initiatives. We are careful to respect human life and we shall be careful. But if they want that the Gazan mothers want to sleep at night. They must understand that all mothers want to sleep at night with their babies.”

Here’s the video clip:

King James II

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

This is a portrait of King James II by Nicolas de Largillière, c. 1686.

James II was King of England and Ireland, and also doubled under the name James VII as King of Scotland. His reign began on February 6, 1685.

He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. After he produced a Catholic heir, the English gentry invited his son in law William of Orange from the Netherlands to invade their country. James II abdicated in a hurry in 1688 and fled to France. He was replaced by William of Orange who became William III, ruling jointly with his wife, who was James’s daughter, Mary II (both Protestants) and together they were the William and Mary team.

James made one half-hearted attempt to take back his country in 1689, but gave up again and Lived out his life sponsored by his cousin, King Louis XIV.

James II, like Louis, was a believer in the absolute monarchy, kings ruling by the grace of God, etc. He also believed, strangely enough, in religious liberty for all his subjects. The first belief made him an enemy of the aristocracy, the second angered the Curch of England. So there you go.

Today, November 13, back in 1685, when he was still very much the king—for another three years or so—King James II of England ordered his Attorney General to stop any proceedings against the Jews because “they should not be troubled upon the King’s account but they should quietly enjoy the free exercise of their religion whilst they behaved dutifully and obediently to his government.”

I’m a great believer in gratitude to those who have done right by us. I often think of King James II when I get into debates with my friends both on the left and on the right over my deep admiration for the late President Richard Nixon. Like James II, he was despised by the powers that be across the board (even though he won by a landslide in 1972). But in October, 1973, by about the tenth day of the Yom Kippur war, Israel had run out of practically everything, and it was Richard Nixon who saved our hide, with a fleet of Galaxy cargo planes the size of spaceships, that brought in ammunition and supplies.

So, my word for today is Gratitude. To James II and Millhouse I and all the misunderstood rulers and despots who did right by us.

Golan Heights Wind Farm

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The Golan Heights Wind Farm is located 3,150 ft. above sea level on Mount Bnei Rasan, three miles south of Quneitra in the Golan Heights.

In other words, just a stone’s throw away from the bloodiest civil war raging in the region.

It was the first wind farm ever built in Israel, back in 1992. It perates 10 Floda 600 wind turbines generating 6 MW for the Mey Eden mineral water bottling plant, the Golan Heights Winery and 20,000 local residents, give or take. The surplus is fed into the electrical grid.

Several more wind farms are planned in the Galilee, the Negev, and the Aravah regions.

Walking to shul on the shore of the Mediterranean in Netanya, holding on to my yarmulka against the crazy gale, I wonder why they haven’t filled up the horizon with off-shore wind turbines. Altogether, it’s nuts that a country with this much sun and this much wind has to keep looking for oil and natural gas in the ground.

You know why the off shore rigs Israeli companies keep building are yet to yield a drop? Because the midrash says there was no deluge in Eretz Israel. No deluge – no oil or natural gas. It’s scientific…

But, like I said, we’re blessed with so much wind and sun, we should be able to make with it more than just hot air…

Thousands of Syrian Refugees Pour Into Turkey

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Thousands of Syrian refugees poured across the border into Turkey on Friday after heavy fighting between Syrian opposition and loyalists to President Bashar Assad led to the deaths of 46 people in two days in the northeast and 68 throughout the rest of the country, including 47 civilians.

According to the United Nations, over 9,000 Syrians fled to Turkey in the span of one day, with 2,000 others escaping to neighboring countries.  Approximately 408,000 Syrians are considered refugees in the area.

The UN anticipated that 700,000 Syrians would ultimately make their way to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq to escape the civil war, and that 4 million people would need emergency aid.

What We Lost in This Election

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Now that we have lost the election of 2012, where our champion, a third-rate imitation of Ronald Reagan, without either his charm or his principles, who believed in absolutely nothing except being the best salesman he could be; let’s pause to reflect on all the things we lost out on through his defeat.

When we lose something, a relationship or a job, the grief comes from what we thought we had and what we imagined it was, not from what it truly was. Perspective means getting a true sense of what we had and what we never had to begin with.

So let’s look at what we might have had with President Mitt Romney.

We lost the chance to have universal health care, with the mandate, become a principle that every conservative was duty-bound to defend.

Oh I know. Mitt Romney was going to repeal ObamaCare. And he was. And by “repeal”, I mean he would have tinkered with it a bit and turned it into RomneyCare. And for the next four to eight years, it would have been heresy to ever suggest that we opposed universal health care with a mandate. Once Romney did that, it would have turned out that we only opposed universal health care with a mandate when it was badly enacted, without regard for businesses, by a Democrat.

We lost the chance to have a Republican president deliver weapons to Syrian Jihadists. Not to mention apply more sanctions to Iran in order to force it to the negotiating table. We could have been so privileged as to have a Republican president execute these two items of Obama’s agenda. Instead we’re stuck with a Democrat doing it.

Of course President Mitt Romney would not have done these things out of a deep abiding hatred for America and a sympathy for terrorists. But he would have still done them anyway. He wouldn’t have understood what he was doing, but his foreign policy would still have been sixty percent of Obama’s foreign policy, without the conscious malice. It would have been an improvement in that regard and only in that regard.

Those of you pro-Israeli types who imagine that a President Romney would have taken the boot off Israel’s neck, would have been shocked when a month after taking office, his Secretary of State would have commenced condemning Israeli “settlements” in Jerusalem. Just like it was in the days of the Bush Administration.

But, Romney would have been different, you say. He had a great rapport with Netanyahu. And Bush had a great rapport with Sharon. He had an even better one with Saudi Arabia. The same would have been true of Romney.

Still Romney would have appointed conservatives to the Supreme Court. And there you may even be right. I wouldn’t place any bets on it though. Oh we probably wouldn’t have gotten any Wise Latinas on his watch, but then again we might have, but I wouldn’t count on too many members of the Federalist Society ending up on the bench either.

Romney would at least have been pro-business. So was George W. Bush. And how well did he deal with the problems of government overreach? It’s all well and good to be pro-business, but even a former businessman who becomes a president, sees problems from the government’s end, not from the standpoint of a businessman.

And, for that matter, if you doubt any of this, do look back on the Bush years and consider that Romney would have been worse in every area than Bush. It’s human nature not to believe that, but it’s so. And if the election had gone another way, in a few months you would have seen it for yourselves.

The 2012 election was of course a disaster. A complete and thorough disaster. But it was a disaster because Obama and his cronies won. Not because Mitt Romney lost. Mitt Romney filled a void. He stepped into a spot that we needed, became a symbol and then he failed, because he was only a man, and worse still he was a blue state politician who was light on principles and heavy on being a people person.

What we lost in this election was not a chance for better leadership, but a chance to remove a bad leader. But what we gained was an end to complicity in the actions and policies of this administration. What we gained was a chance to use this defeat to launch a movement that can actually win an election by confronting the issues.

Famed IDF Rescue Team in Ghana After Mall Collapses

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The Israel Defense Forces galvanized its internationally-recognized emergency response team to assist in a search and rescue operation in Ghana Wednesday night, after a shopping center collapsed in the country’s capital.

Doctors, engineers, and others, along with Magen David Adom staff, were sent to establisha  field hospital in the area.  So far, 51 people have been pulled from the rubble, with one confirmed death.

Four More Years

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Once again I find myself congratulating the man I did not vote for. Barack Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term as President of the United States.

As I said in my endorsement of his opponent, the President is a good and decent man. I don’t think he has been a bad President. He just hasn’t been a great President. His economic policies have not done enough to improve the economy. I thought a return to a more Reagan like approach was the way to go. But the country disagreed. Taxes will now increase and I don’t see how taking money out of the hands of the consumer is going to get that consumer to spend more.

When it came to Obama’s foreign policy, I gave him points for supporting Israel with deeds, if not so much with warmth. A lack of warmth that I attribute to his antipathy towards Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Not to the Jewish people. I in fact firmly believe that he has very warm feelings towards the Jewish people, genuine respect for Judaism, and a strong commitment to Israel’s survival as a Jewish State. Although I might disagree with him about how we get there.

The American people have spoken. By a very slim margin in the popular vote and by a huge margin in the electoral vote President Obama will be serving this great nation for another four years. Congratulations Mr. President.

I first want to echo what Governor Romney said in his concession speech: I hope and pray that the President succeeds in his task of restoring the economy to one of prosperity and in his goal to secure Israel’s existence. I also hope that he stays the course in his determination to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. I only pray that he does not wait too long to take military action if (and I emphasized “if”) it is needed.

My biggest concern with respect to Israel is that comment he made to Putin about having more flexibility after the election. I’m not sure what that means. But if it means pressuring Israel to make more concessions without some sort of quid pro quo from the Palestinians, that is not a formula for peace. It is a formula for instability and terrorism on the part of the Islamists who will take advantage of any weakness caused by American pressure on Israel. But all that remains to be seen.

What direction Obama’s foreign policy will take can be seen by who the President chooses as Secretary of State for his 2nd term. My hope is that he will take someone that is not “more even handed” which is a code word for pro Palestinian.

Among the candidates I have heard mentioned by pundits for the post is John Kerry. Not a fan. He claims to be pro Israel. But I don’t trust this opportunistic flip-flopper.

I wonder if the President has considered Joe Lieberman. I know he’s available. And his foreign policy credentials are impeccable. As is his integrity. If the President does not want to be surrounded by “yes men” then Joe Lieberman would be a good choice.

Of course it will probably not be either one of those men. We’ll see. As I indicated – who the President picks will foreshadow what direction his foreign policy will take. I sure hope it is someone more like Lieberman than it is someone like Kerry.

I have also heard the name Jack Lew mentioned as a possible new Secretary of the Treasury to replace Tim Geithner. That too would be a good choice. Lew was the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Bill Clinton. The OMB is a cabinet level White House office that devises and submits the president’s annual budget proposal to Congress. It sure would be nice to go back to the Clinton Era economy…

I mentioned at the time of my endorsement of Romney that it took me a while to decide who to vote for. That’s because I didn’t see all that much of a difference in policy with respect to the Middle East, nor did I see any solutions to our economic problems coming out of either candidate. This is still true. We will have to wait what happens. As I said, I hope the President succeeds in returning the economy to Clinton era prosperity. I hope his foreign policy benefits the State of Israel. And that his domestic policies benefit the country.

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